Thursday, September 22, 2011

R.E.M. Out of Time

After 31 years as a band, R.E.M. has decided to "call it a day."

The band made the announcement yesterday on their website. For some folks this may not seem as much of a surprise; the band hasn't toured much in the last several years, new albums come out slower than winter molasses and frankly not a lot of news from them has been released. Many members of the band have been pursuing side projects.

Fans of the band will remember that Bill Berry left the band in 1997. He convinced the rest of the band to carry on without him saying he couldn't leave if they broke up as a result. His reasons for leaving were that he was ready to be done being a pop star.

Berry did perform with the band in 2007 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Early this year the band released their fifteenth album, Collapse into Now. This would be the final album of new material from the band.

For me this is the end of an era. I have listened to R.E.M. for as long as I can remember. I want to say my first exposure to the band was with the song It's the End of the World As We Know it.

Out of Time quickly became one of my top ten favorite albums with classics like Losing My Religion and Love Shack.

During my senior year in high school I would wander the halls of North Pole High School with a cassette of Automatic For the People. Although it never got airplay, New Orleans Instrumental No. 1 was my favorite song. It was quickly followed by Sweetness Follows.

When Monster was released I was at Warehouse Music in Carlsband, Calif. grabbing my copy. I had to have it. In fact, Monster is the first album I bought on its official release day.

R.E.M. was the music that carried me through the 80s and 90s. No matter what mood, setting or time, I could always find a song of theirs that fit. Admittedly, I haven't purchased their last few albums, but I would never even conceive of getting rid of the ones I still have.

They are forever immortalized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in the hearts of so many of us that grew up as a part of Generation X.